Go the distance: An hour of exercise makes body burn calories faster for days

CORVALLIS, Oregon — Hopping on the treadmill even for just 10 minutes can help keep the body healthy, but one study shows why going the distance can make a big difference for dieters. Just one hour of exercise makes cells burn calories at a faster rate for up to two days, research reveals.

Researchers from Oregon State University studied people who do not follow an exercise routine and found that a moderate aerobic workout has a positive fat-burning effect that continues for about 48 hours. Regular exercise creates lasting change in metabolism, making our bodies burn more energy even when they’re not working out.

The team at Oregon State University carried out tests on mitochondria, the part of the cell which turns fuels such as sugars and fats into energy. Participants with a low level of fitness rode a stationary bike in which they could comfortably carry on a conversation for an hour. Their muscles were then biopsied 15 minutes later and compared to the results a day later.

Researchers report the effects were not drastic, but consistent. Post-exercise, study participants’ mitochondria burned 12% to 13% more fat-based fuel, and 14% to 17% more sugar-based fuel. This study is the first to discover that even just an hour’s exercise in sedentary people boosted their health.

“What we found is that, regardless of what fuel the mitochondria were using, there were mild increases in the ability to burn off the fuels. It’s pretty remarkable that even after just one hour of exercise, these people were able to burn off a little more fuel,” says lead author Dr. Matt Robinson, an assistant professor in the university’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences, in a statement.

“From a big picture health perspective, it’s very encouraging for people to realize that you can get health benefits from a single session of exercise. We’re trying to encourage people, ‘You did one, why don’t you try to do two? Let’s do three.’ The benefits of a single hour of exercise seem to fade away after a day or two. You get the long-term benefits when you do that exercise again and again and you make it a regular habit,” he adds.

The study is published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

SWNS writer Joe Morgan contributed to this report.


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